The More Things Change the More Versatile You Have to Become

This year has been so bizarre that it’s not unreasonable to conclude that the Mayans could be onto something. During the first month or two of 2012, we were all crying in our milk because of a lack of snowfall up north, or maybe a lack of rain if you’re down in Florida. Then the early spring sprang and everybody was giddy with excitement. That lasted all of two months before an historic drought set in across the country. Back to crying in our milk we went.

Now that it’s the end of August, how do you feel about where your company stands? Is your revenue up or down for the year? How about profits? What are you going to do to finish the year strong?

The contractors that can withstand unpredictable weather patterns, economic slowdowns and other “natural disasters” are the ones that don’t put too many eggs in one basket. Many learned this lesson when the housing market collapsed a few years ago. Just think about how many installation contractors suddenly became your competitors in the maintenance arena.

While it’s safe to say most contractors now understand that maintenance has to be part of a successful business model going forward, there is still more to it than that. Look at this summer’s drought—which brought grass growth and lawnmower operation to a standstill in some regions. Many of the mow-blow-go guys have also been feeling the pinch this season because they are too reliant on vigorous grass growth.

Lawn renovation services such as dethatching, aerating and overseeding can be a great way to supplement your maintenance business—especially during the fall season. Many contractors say customers are looking to have these services done again, after having put them on the sideline for the past couple of years. And considering the dry conditions many parts of the country have experienced this year, aerating is a service many property owners will be receptive to. Check out the lawn renovation features on pages 12 and 16 of this issue.

And despite what happened in 2008-2009, do not lose sight of the growing hardscape business. Contractors that are skilled, certified, and up on all of the latest hardscaping trends will have a competitive advantage as things continue to improve. Check out our “top residential hardscaping trends” feature on page 24.

The old saying is true: When it rains, it pours. And when it doesn’t, it sure doesn’t. As Mother Nature and whoever else continue to throw curve ball after curve ball at you, it’s important to be versatile enough to adapt—and chase those sales dollars down, wherever they might be.


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